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Africa's History did not start in Slavery.Some of the world's other great civilisations, such as Kush, Axum , Ghana , Mali , Oyo empire and Great Zimbabwe , also flourished in Africa and some major scientific advances were known in Africa long before they were known in Europe . Towards the middle of the 12 th century, the north African scientist, Al Idrisi, wrote, ‘What results from the opinion of philosophers, learned men and those skilled in observation of the heavenly bodies, is that the world is as round as a sphere, of which the waters are adherent and maintained upon its surface by natural equilibrium.'
Celebration at Abomey,Dahomey Republic of Benin part of old Oyo empire.
Africans were certainly involved in trans-oceanic travel long before Europeans and there is some evidence to suggest that Africans crossed the Atlantic and reached the American continent, perhaps even north America , as early as 500 BC. In the 14 th century, the Syrian writer, al-Umari, wrote about the voyage of the Emperor of Mali who crossed the Atlantic with 2000 ships but failed to return.
Africans in east and south-eastern Africa also set up great civilisations that established important trading links with the kingdoms and empires of India and China long before Europeans had learned how to navigate the Atlantic ocean . When Europeans first sailed to Africa in the 15 th century, African pilots and navigators shared with them their knowledge of trans-oceanic travel.
It was gold from the great empires of West Africa , Ghana , Mali and Songhay, which provided the means for the economic take off of Europe in the 13 th and 14 th centuries and aroused the interest of Europeans in western Africa .
An early historian in the 9 th century wrote ‘the king of Ghana is a great king. In his territory are mines of gold.' When the famous historian of Muslim Spain, al-Bakri wrote about Ghana in the 11 th century, he reported that its king ‘rules an enormous kingdom and has great power' .
The king of Ghana was said to have an army of 200,000 men and to rule over an extremely wealthy trading empire. In the 14 th century, the west African empire of Mali was larger than western Europe and reputed to be one of the largest, richest and most powerful states in the world. The Moroccan traveller Ibn Batuta wrote about his very favourable impressions of this empire and said that he found ‘complete and general safety' there.
When the famous emperor of Mali , Mansa Musa visited Cairo in 1324, it was said that he brought so much gold with him that its price fell dramatically and had not recovered its value even 12 years later. The empire of Songhay was known, amongst other things, for the famous university of Sankore based in Timbuctu.
Aristotle was studied at Sankore and also subjects such as law, various branches of philosophy, dialectic, grammar, rhetoric and astronomy. In the 16 th century one of its most famous scholars, Ahmed Baba, is said to have written more than 40 major books on subjects such as astronomy, history and theology and he had his own private library that held over 1500 volumes. One of the first reports of Timbuctu to reach Europe was by Leo Africanus. In his book, published in 1550, he says of the town: ‘There you will find many judges, professors and devout men, all handsomely maintained by the king, who holds scholars in much honour. There too they sell many handwritten north African books, and more profit is to be made there from the sale of books than from any other branch of trade.'
African knowledge and that of the ancient world, was transmitted to Europe as a result of the North African or Moorish conquest of the Iberian peninsular in the 8 th century. There were in fact several such conquests including two by the Berber dynasties in the 11 th and 12 th centuries.
The Muslim invasion of Europe, and the founding of the state of Cordoba , re-introduced all the learning of the ancient world as well as the various contributions made by Islamic scholars and linked Europe much more closely with north and West Africa . Arabic numerals based on those used in India were introduced and they helped simplify mathematical calculations.
Europe was also introduced to the learning of ancient world mainly through translations in Arabic of works in medicine, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics and philosophy. So important was the knowledge found in Muslim Spain, that one Christian monk - Adelard of Bath - disguised himself as a Muslim in order to study at the university at Cordoba . Many historians believe that it was this knowledge, brought to Europe through Muslim Spain, which not only created the conditions for the Renaissance but also for the eventual expansion of Europe overseas in the 15 th century.
European views before the Slave Trade
Before the devastation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade important diplomatic and trading partnerships had developed between the rulers of European countries and those of Africa who saw each other as equals. Some of the earliest European visitors to Africa recognised that many African societies were as advanced or even more advanced than their own.
In the early 16 th century, the Portuguese trader Duarte Barboosa said of the east African city Kilwa: There were many fair houses of stone and mortar, well arranged in streets. Around it were streams and orchards with many channels of sweet water.' Of the inhabitants of Kilwa he reported, ‘They were finely clad in many rich garments of gold and silk, and cotton, and the women as well; also with much gold and silver in chains and bracelets, which they wore on their legs and arms, and many jewelled earring s in their ears.'
A Dutch traveller to the kingdom of Benin in the early 17 th century sent home this report of the capital.
‘It looks very big when you enter it for you go into a great broad street, which, though not paved, seems to be seven or eight times broader than the Warmoes Street in Amsterdam. This street continues for about four miles and has no bend in it. At the gate where I went in on horseback, I saw a big wall, very thick and made of earth, with a deep ditch outside. Outside the gate there is a large suburb.
Inside as you go along the main street, you can see other broad streets on either side, and these are also straight. The houses in this town stand in good order, one close to the other and evenly placed beside the next, like our houses in Holland.' Africans and the African continent have made enormous contributions to human history just as other peoples and continents have. It is the development of Eurocentric and racist views in Europe that have denied this fact and sought to negate the history of Africa and its peoples.
Africa , the birthplace of humanity
We now know We now know that far from having no history, it is likely that human history actually began in Africa. The oldest evidence of human existence and that of our immediate ancestors has been found in Africa .In July 2002 further evidence of the existence of early hominids in Africa was found with the discovery of the fossilised remains of what has been called Sahelanthropus tchadensis , thought to be between 6-7 million years old, in Chad. The latest scientific research points to the fact that all human beings are likely to have African ancestors. See Ethiopia.
Invade of Ashate kingdom
Africa's history did not begin in slavery, and despite the peculiarity, horror, and duration of enslavement of Africans, slavery occupies a minor timeframe in the 120,000 years of African history. In the last 50 years much has been done to combat the entirely false and negative views about the history of Africa and Africans.
See African Kingdoms for the vast civilizations that existed in Africa. Christianity existed in Ethiopia long before there was the "Church of England". Islam exited in Africa before it even reached outside of what is today Saudi Arabia. Libraries and universities existed in Islamic cities such as Timbuktu, where advance mathematics and astrology were studied. In Ethiopia for 100s of years the Kebra Negast was written in the only surviving African native script Ge'ez. Ethiopia was the only African nation to actively repel colonialism and is one of the world oldest continuous civilizations.
Africa has always been part of the Biblical, Jewish and Islamic world. It was a common site to see Ethiopians in Rome or anywhere in the "known" world. Modern day Israel was also a site for Ethiopian pilgrimage and Mecca was for Muslim Africa. The historical trip of Kanka Musa was said to alter the economy of every state he passed through on his way to Mecca.
Some of the most notable civilizations in human history come out of the Nile Valley in Africa, of these we know KMT (Ancient Egypt) and Nubia. Still today Western historians, as in the past, have tried to deny the African identity of these kingdoms, which are geographically located in Africa. Yet no one has ever said Greece was not a European civilization, or Ancient China was not an Asian civilization. So this double standard is the legacy of the white washing of Africa history to satisfy the myth that Africa is outside of humanity, civilization and thus suitable for harvest by more advanced nations.
The denial of African agency has had a profound impact on how the world sees general history in the context of the African agent. Christian history is African history (Axsum). The history of World civilizations is the history of Africa. The history of Islam is the history of Africa (1st Hijirah, Sokoto, Islamic Spain), you cannot divorced one from the other. The history of humanity is an African history.
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History and development didn't happen in isolation of African agency. Slavery and Colonialism did victimized Africans but Africans are not histories perpetual victims. Africans in antiquity had agency and made conscious choices which contributed to the development of humanity. In Axsum the course that Ezna took to make Christianity the state religion was based on his sovereign agency
There is a mental tool kit that the African student needs to engage anytime studying history. Unlike everyone else when an African speaks he is fighting two battles; proving he is valid as a human to contribute and then proving he is right. This double burden is due to the historical disinheritance created by racism.
When history is reduced from all the pages to the underlining conclusion, we find regardless of if the author is British liberal, American conservative, or Australian the conclusion is the same: Africa has fostered nothing the Western World considers artifacts of civilization. With few exceptions, this is the underlying summarization on Africa, the pathology of discrediting and take-away.
Eurocentric scholarship would rather credit Arabs, Indians, Chinese and even aliens for the pyramids rather than native Africans. The real difference between the liberal and the conservative is that the conservative will control you by external mechanisms (sanctions/war), the liberal will control you by internal mechanism.(charities/missionaries, agenda setters). Both have an adverse reaction every time African agency lifts its head up.